Florida is known for many amazing things, including miles and miles upon miles of white sandy beaches and crystal clear springs. Unique wildlife, top-notch courses and world-famous theme parks are just a few.
The state is huge and you will have to go back many times to see all the highlights. You will plan a return trip before you even leave.
The Florida bucket list starts in the south, covering the Miami Keys and Florida Keys before moving on to Central and Northern Florida. Let’s get started!
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Florida Bucket List
Take the Overseas Highway
The Overseas Highway, a modern marvel, travels 113 mi from Key Largo and Key West. It connects the keys via 42 bridges over the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico.
You’ll pass picturesque communities, white sandy beaches and busy marinas on your way down. There are also many tempting seafood restaurants.
You can take as much or as little as you like on your trip down. You should consider the luxurious oceanfront accommodations that will leave you with lasting memories if you have the time.
For a luxurious experience in Islamoralda, visit the Amara Cay Resort or the Siesta Resort & Marina to enjoy beautiful rooms along the waterfront.
Marathon offers resort-style lodging at a lower price. The Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott is our top choice for its price and amenities. It has two outdoor pools, a gym, and an onsite restaurant and bar all situated right on the water.
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
John Pennekamp State Park was the first American underwater park to be created in order to protect coral reefs and the marine life that surrounds them in this area of southern Florida.
It stretches 25 miles along the coast and 3 miles into Atlantic Ocean. This is where you will find a fascinating glimpse into one of the only two coral reefs that remain in the United States.
The coral reefs are the most well-known ecosystem, but the park’s mangrove and seagrass habitats are equally fascinating.
It is best to arrange a snorkeling and scuba diving trip to this park. However, visitors can also book a tour by glass bottom boat through a number of private companies. Kayaking and canoeing are popular options.
You don’t need to go to the ocean, but you can still enjoy the park by walking the short trails through the tropical forest that lead to beautiful beaches and picnic areas.
Feed Tarpon At Robbie’s
Robbie’s, in the Florida Keys, is a popular tourist spot in Islamorada. Robbie’s Marina is renowned for its tarpon feeding, where visitors can hand-feed these massive fish.
Robbie’s offers parasailing and fishing charters, so you can watch the amazing tarpon action.
The hotel has a fantastic restaurant and bar with waterfront views and delicious cocktails. Make sure to take some time to relax and enjoy the views.
Dolphin Research Center
The Dolphin Resource Center allows guests to come up close and personal and learn about Florida’s marine mammal ecology and biology through educational presentations and displays.
This facility is unlike other marine parks. It has natural water lagoons in the Gulf of Mexico. All the dolphins and sea lions can choose whether or not they wish to take part in interactive programs either from the docks, or from the water. They are never forced to do so.
It is possible to spend an entire day watching these intelligent animals’ personalities and behavior.
The Dolphin Research Center can be found in Grassy Key.
Fred The Tree
The Old Seven Mile Bridge runs parallel to the Overland Highway. Fred, a persistent plant lives on this bridge.
Fred The Tree has been flourishing since he was a seed that was dropped on the bridge. He has been warming motorists’ hearts as they drive past.
This amazing Australian pine species can be found between Marathon and Big Pine Key.
No Name Pub
The No Name Bar is a fun bar that offers a honky-tonk vibe to keep you entertained on your trip to Key West. If you find it.
This bar’s history dates back to 1931, when it was originally a bait and lure shop. Later, the establishment became a brothel. This business venture was reportedly a failure because the fisherman were more attractive than the women.
People come to this bar for the vibrant atmosphere, to have a drink and play pool. The bar’s interior decor is the best part. It is all covered in $1 bills.
The Hemingway House
In Key West, the Ernest Hemingway house was home to the famed American writer in 1930’s.
The stately home, built in 1851 in Spanish Colonial style, was fully restored by Hemingway and made a National Historical Landmark.
Visitors are welcome to tour the house and visit the museum, which is open every day.
You may be struck by the number of cats roaming the property. Many of them are polydactyl. These cats are believed to be descendants of Snow White, Hemingway’s first cat. She had six toes.
The Southernmost Point of The Continental USA
The Southernmost point Buoy is the most southern point in the United States.
This concrete buoy is a popular tourist attraction in Key West. People line up for hours to take photos with it.
It was founded in 1983 and has been able to withstand many hurricanes over the past five decades.
It is located at the corner South and Whitehead streets.
Dry Tortugas National Park
The southwest corner of Florida Keys’ reef system is Dry Tortugas National Park, which is the third largest in the country.
The park covers 100 miles and has seven islands that you can explore. The best way to see the highlights of this national parks is to go underwater. Corals and seagrass communities in this park are some of the most vibrant in Florida Keys.
It is only possible to reach the remote destination by boat or plane. However, if you are able to arrange transport to get there, you will be amazed at the amazing blue waters and abundance of marine and bird life.
Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park, which protects twenty percent of Florida’s original Everglades, is the United States’ largest topical wilderness.
This national park, which is third in size in the USA contiguous after Yellowstone and Death Valley, is quite impressive.
If you’re a wildlife enthusiast, it should be at the top of your bucket lists. The park is home to 36 endangered and protected species, including the Florida panther and American crocodile. There are also hundreds of reptile and bird species.
There are many things to do, including hiking along nature trails, cycling, kayaking, camping, and much more.
Have An Alligator Encounter At Everglades Alligator Farm
If you’re not fortunate enough to encounter an alligator on your Florida vacations, but still want to do so, you can visit the Everglades Alligator Farm just outside of Miami.
The farm features over 500 alligators and educational presentations. Visitors can also hold a baby alligator at the end of each show.
Enjoy an Airboat Ride through the Everglades
A tour on an airboat is one of the most exciting things to do in Florida. These trips are a great way to experience Florida’s natural landscapes and ecosystems up close. You can visit beautiful Cyprus forests, wetlands, and swamps.
Wooten’s is a great company to arrange your tour through. They offer many options, including entry into their animal sanctuary.
Stay at Miami Coral Gables
Coral Gables is well-known for its tree-lined boulevards and ivy-covered mansions. It also has historical landmarks like the Venetian Pool and Biltmore Hotel, both of which were built in 1920s.
Coral Gables is close to Miami so it’s an easy day trip from Miami to visit this lovely neighborhood.
The Biltmore is a great choice for luxury vacations in Florida. The historic hotel has stunning rooms and terraced suites set in a tropical-like setting. You will find a large swimming pool, an excellent golf course, and even the theater.
If you are unable to stay, make sure you have time to enjoy the hotel’s afternoon Tea.
Coral Castle Museum
Coral Castle Museum in Homestead, Florida is home to many sculptures made of stone.
Although the stone garden isn’t an ancient monument, it is nonetheless very interesting. It was created by Edward Leedskalnin in 1923 to 1951. It contains over 1,100 tons coral rock.
Edward was a friendly and welcoming person during his lifetime. He would only ask for a ten-cent entry fee.
This rocky paradise can be viewed by visitors between Thursday and Sunday, 9am-6pm.
Little Havana, a vibrant cultural area in Miami, is lined with Latin-inspired restaurants, bakeries and cigar shops.
You must visit this neighborhood, which is lined with many cool murals and art. You can choose from Cuban sandwiches, empanadas or guava pastelitos, as well as Cuban coffee.
Miami Beach is Florida’s most visited destination. It is known for its vibrant personality and art deco architecture as well as its beautiful beaches.
South Beach is the perfect place for anyone who loves a party atmosphere. It offers an eclectic mix of boutiques, galleries and restaurants, as well as a variety of nightclubs and bars. The beach is also a must-see!
The Miami Art Deco District is another must-see while in Miami. It boasts the largest collection art deco buildings anywhere in the world.
Key Biscayne is a must-see on any Miami trip. The island is located just a short distance from the Rickenbacker Causeway and is surrounded by nature preserves and sandy beaches.
This small island is a world away from bustling Miami’s beaches and downtown. If you feel like you need to take a breather from all the party vibes, head to Key Biscayne.
Two state parks are located here, but we recommend Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park on the southern tip. The state park contains a 19th-century lighthouse that can be climbed up to the top for stunning views over the Florida coast.
Boaters and watersports enthusiasts alike love Biscayne. Many tour operators offer guided boat tours and sunset tours.
You might want to spend your entire vacation here, so check out the Ritz-Carlton, a luxurious property that boasts two oceanfront swimming pools.
This tourist park is home to hundreds of prehistoric dinosaurs. The lush gardens are a great place for children to explore and discover the different species.
Dinosaur World, while not a theme park, can be described more as a slice roadside Americana. This is why Dinosaur World is a must-see attraction for anyone who enjoys road trips and quirky attractions.
Dinosaur World is located north of Tampa. The exit is marked with a huge T-Rex.
Disney World Magic: Experience the Magic
Walt Disney World is the most popular vacation destination in the world, with an average attendance of over 58 million visitors each year!
Four different theme parks are covered by the resort, including Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom. It doesn’t end there. Two water parks are available, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach.
It is obvious that you could spend several weeks here without seeing everything.
The National Natural Monument of Ichetucknee Springs, Ichetucknee Springs State Park is where you will find it. The clear, blue waters of the Ichetucknee River flow six miles through shaded hammocks before joining the Santa Fe River. Ichetucknee, like many springs in northern Florida is fed by an aquifier.
These waters are a favorite summer activity among locals, and it should be something you do if you’re visiting the area. Between May and September, inner tubes can be rented from the park. The water is exceptionally clear and popular for swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving.
The state park is also home to otters and gar as well as softshell turtles and wild turkeys. So bring your binoculars!